Title: The Cool Part of His Pillow
Author: Rodney Ross
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Characters: Barry and Andy
The mid-forties are that time in a gay man’s life when his major paradigm shifts from sexy to sensible. But when Barry Grooms’ partner of twenty years is killed on Barry’s forty-fifth birthday, his world doesn’t so much evolve as it does explode.
After navigating through the surreal conveyor belt of friends and family, he can’t eat another casserole or swallow much more advice, and so, still numb, he escapes to Key West, then New York. He embraces a new mantra: Why the hell not? He becomes so spontaneous he’s ready to combust. First, he gets a thankless new job working for a crazy lady in a poncho, and then has too many drinks with a narcissistic Broadway actor. Next, it’s a nude exercise class that redefines flop sweat, and from there he’s on to a relationship with a man twenty years his junior, so youthfully oblivious he thinks Karen Carpenter is a lesbian woodworker.
Yet no matter how great the retreat from the man he used to be, life’s gravity spins Barry back to the town where he grew up for one more ironic twist that teaches him how to say good-bye with grace.
How does someone carry on with life when the person who has been by your side for twenty three years is suddenly taken away? The Cool Part of His Pillow is a book that spans a year in Barry’s life following the death of Andy, his partner. Barry tries to resume his life after Andy’s very public death, but finds that everyday things are filled with reminders of his past life with Andy. From picking up his laundry to going to the grocer answering questions about Andy makes life unbearable. Barry decides, after a brief trip to Key West, that he needs a fresh start somewhere without daily reminders of Andy, and New York City fits the bill.
After settling his finances Barry packs up his belongings and makes the move to New York. Starting a new job as the manager of Theatrilicious, a down and out Broadway theatre memorabilia store, Barry slowly integrates himself back in to society and the online dating scene. We get to meet great characters like Olaf the performance artist to even more strange ones like the furry Hugo. A chance meeting at a Nudercise class brings Jarod, and some romance back in to his life.
A family crisis brings Barry back home and he realizes that while New York is a change of scenery it is not exactly everything he needs. Closure comes in strange ways to some people and can open your eyes to new things as well.
Rodney Ross, you had me at “Here’s an idea. Why don’t you change? And how’s that courtship working out for Eddie’s father?”. This book is so well written and contains so much witty banter inside and out of Barry’s head. I cried and laughed so hard at times, that tears ran down my face. I only wish we had the story before the story. I would love to read about how Andy and Barry got together in the first place as this was glossed over in just a few sentences. While this is not the typical MM book I would read, sex is not front and center, I am so thankful for being given the opportunity to find a new author to enjoy.
Reviewed By: Vonda